Recently, I came upon the concept of “team culture” as I was reading about the human resource aspect of project management. I hadn’t really thought about the “culture” of teams I’ve led – at least, not in those terms.

I often think about my interactions with people and how people interact with me. I also like to observe how people interact with one another. But I have not necessarily thought about how my interactions and actions establish a “culture” (i.e. customs and beliefs) within the team.

Reading about this concept made me realize how much more intentional I need to be, as the project manager, in setting the proper tone for the team. In thinking through what I would want my team’s culture to be, I have created the list below. It is in no particular order:

  • Transparent with each other about what is good, what is bad, and what could be better
  • Cooperative to assist one another to make sure critical items do not slip for the sake of one’s convenience
  • Intentional about everything we do so that the proper task gets done whether easy or hard
  • Vigilant about anything that can throw us off the plan
  • Solution-focused rather than focused on the problem
  • Rejecting the status quo which leads to creative problem-solving
  • Accountable for our own actions and results, as well as the team’s

As I reflect upon this list, I see that to achieve these characteristics requires taking the “me” out of “team” and realizing that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” It’s accepting the reality that, as individuals, we can be good or even really good at some things. But often, it takes a team to be great.

I can see how over time, more of these characteristics have become prevalent in teams I’ve led. I think it’s because I have learned a lot about the limitations of my strengths and the prevalence of my weaknesses. A project manager is never a team of one.

I’d be interested to hear what you think is missing from my list. In the meantime, I’ll be working on being more intentional about team culture.